Friday, November 23, 2012

Five Discussion & Thinking Points For Owners/Managers

I suggest that you consider discussing the points below with your management team. If you are a team of one (yourself only) feel free to give me a call to discuss them - (773) 549-7210. I mean this... I will chat with you happily.

1. A caterer’s employment level must reflect the amount of booked business.                       
2. Talk with your staff and ask them what they would do if they were the owners.     
3. Staff needs to know that they can share their thoughts on any and all subjects with management.
4. Managers need to empower staff to make decisions; but staff needs to accept the consequences.
5. Successful catering companies have regular meetings on a consistent schedule.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Catering is Tough to Market

Buying a candy bar is simple. Buying catering is complex because of the many variables and significant costs. To market catering effectively, you need to understand the factors that make it a difficult selling situation:
·         You are marketing something that cannot be taken off a shelf and examined by the buyer.
·         It’s difficult to demonstrate your product or service like you could a camera or a new car. Many buyers don’t understand what catering really is.
·         You may be marketing a product you have never really purchased yourself, so you may not have a good understanding of what goes through the mind of a buyer. Marketing needs to take into account the fears buyers have, such as running out of food at an event.
·         The buyer doesn’t take the party home with them after the sale, like they would a car. They have to trust you to do what you promised—and that is scary. Your marketing needs to keep building trust in your catering. Caterers market what will be.
·         Some of the most expensive cameras still cost less than $2,000, but a wedding may cost $25,000. Buyers tend to get very cautious, simply because of the total amount of money they are spending. Marketing needs to continually work to overcome this element of the buyer’s concerns.
·         Buyers know that they cannot return the catering after the party for a refund or an exchange like they could for certain purchases. This makes the marketer’s and the salesperson’s task even harder.
·         Buyers get an entire proposal and contract to take with them before they say yes to the caterer. This lets the buyer put things under a microscope and compare your bid with those of other caterers. But the bids being compared are seldom at the same quality level as yours. Marketing needs to create, especially with the use of testimonials, that the caterer is trustworthy and has an outstanding track record.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marketing: You might find this interesting?

HI everyone-

I found this in the far reaches of my hard drive yesterday. I wrote these back in the days before "constant contact" and email. Yes, there was a time when we just sent mass mailings out to potential prospects in a mailed letter format via US Mail.

Below you find what we used to call "letter openers". In other words, these are the one-liners we would place at the top of the letter or on the actual envelope to create interest. I thought I'd post them to my "modern" blog because they may spark some creative ideas for use in your constant contact marketing emails.

With a little imagination you will be able to figure out what the rest of the marketing letter copy would be based on the energy of the opening lines below.

1. Does your present caterer have liability insurance?

2. Is your caterer approved by the city to operate legally?

3. If you, like me, are one of those particular people who don't like to compromise on the quality of what they offer to their friends, then you will approve of what I'm about to offer you!

4. Here's how caterers decide how much to charge for their services.

5. What does your caterer do with leftover food at your party? Let me share with you what the law is on this important matter.

6. It happened recently at a company Christmas party. One of the company's key employees stated for all to hear... "If this were really a Christmas Party to thank us for our hard work, we wouldn't have been asked to put out the food and then cleanup!"

7. Suppose one member of a caterer's staff gets hurt while working at your place of business... are you liable?

8. If the list upon which I found your name is any indication, this is not the first time that you have received a business letter of this type.

9. Back in 1945 Chicago had only 26 licensed caterers. Today there are four hundred!

10. You're one of our best clients. We want you to know that soon only a few people will be able to get their catering from our company. We've decided to begin limiting the total number of events that we take to just three per day.

11. If your present caterer already offers you a 100% money back guarantee, then stop reading this letter right here.

12. Some people have the idea that catering is expensive... and they are absolutely right!

13. Some people have the idea that catering is expensive... but, I'd like you to know that this just isn't so!

14. You owe it to yourself to find out what a catered company picnic would do for your staff's overall morale and productivity!

15. Ask yourself: What will we do if you've waited too long to book a caterer for the holiday party!

16. I suppose that it might be a little bit bold of me to ask you for a favor when you are already one of our best clients. However, I do need your help...

17. If my letter has reached the right hands, then finding the better caterers is one of the things on your mind.

18. If my letter has reached the right hands, then finding new and different locations to hold your events is one of your responsibilities.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Digging Up the Root: Guest Article By Jon Wool

When coaching new clients I first ask how I may help improve their business. Responses are usually along the lines of “My chef hates  the sales team” or “We can’t seem to hire and keep good staff” or “We spend too much time on operations.” Such critical issues are common to caterers and restaurateurs.  However, addressing those issues will not solve the root problem. When I dig a little deeper, 9 out of 10 clients eventually acknowledge they want to improve profitability, to decrease their stress level, and to create a culture where everyone works in harmony. Understanding these goals is the first step toward eventually fixing the day-to-day problems that are a blight on every company.

It is common for owners to believe that if they keep doing the same things just a little better then everything will improve. Or they think that if they throw more money at a problem, it will simply go away.  Sadly, this is never the case.  Real solutions come from understanding your objectives and constantly reminding yourself to value the activities that will help you reach them.

Therefore, if your goal is to reduce stress, the last thing you need to do is mediate a personality dispute between departments.  Likewise, once you define your company culture, identifying employees who will be the right fit for your company becomes much easier.  If your goal is to improve profitability, the next step is to assess your sales procedures and evaluate your cost of doing business.  You may even discover a new appreciation for the all the time and energy you are spending on cost-saving operations.

There are many strategies for setting up more efficient procedures or strengthening a team’s unity.  Unfortunately, on their own, none of these quick fixes will bring lasting change or progress.  Owners and managers need to dig deeper to identify their goals and their company’s fundamental mission.  Once these have been unearthed, the whole team will find it easier to work together to help the company flourish.

Jon Wool can re reached at            

Monday, November 19, 2012

Overview Of Pricing

How a caterer views the concept of pricing has a lot to do with the success of the caterer’s business. Selling price is the amount of money that a caterer can get from a willing buyer in exchange for catering. In other words, selling price is the amount thatm someone is prepared to pay for the catering.

Often, when deciding what to charge, a caterer thinks only of what they can get by with. Something like: “What price can I place on my catering that will insure the least chance that I’ll miss the sale?” Most buyers of catering tell us only when they think we are asking too much for our hard work, not when they think we’re charging too little. Imagine a buyer saying, “I’ll take the chicken menu but I want you to charge me $2 per person more because your price is too low.” What a wonderful day that would be! Until then, the only thing a caterer can do is to keep reaching for the highest selling price they can get without losing the sale.

The selling price is the right price that enables you to sell your goods and yields an acceptable profit, at the same time giving the customer the feeling of getting value for their money. Pricing to get the right selling price is a combination of both art and science. You need to constantly measure your price by balancing it with profitability, goodwill and repeat business.